Native American actors see new image in "Twilight"

Mon Jun 28, 2010 8:16pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - It took "Twilight" to do what Hollywood's major studios have struggled with for over a century -- treat Native American teenagers like normal kids.

No leather loincloths, no hair feathers, no dancing around campfires, no tales of woe on reservations.

Sure, "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," which opens in theaters on Wednesday, is pure fantasy with its tale of romance among vampires and the werewolves who sometimes stalk them, but for the actors of the "Wolf Pack" their roles seem very real.

When they aren't battling vampires with their razor-like claws and sharp teeth, the werewolves take the human form of Native Americans from the Quileute tribe.

Chaske Spencer, who plays the leader of the pack, told Reuters that working in the "Twilight" movies has been exciting because it portrays Native Americans in a new and positive light and is aimed at a young audience.

Members of the Wolf Pack dress like modern kids at the mall in denim jeans and shirts -- when they are wearing shirts because the pack is famously bare-chested in much of the movies -- and they posses a quick wits and generous spirits.

"There's a lot of stereotypes that have been squashed," Spencer said. "We're part of this pop culture phenomenon, and we're put in a different light. And the kids see that, and they're digging on it. They love that vibe."

The Native American said many times actors like himself are forced into "leathered and feathered" roles, meaning parts that require them to portray historical Indians of the Old West.   Continued...

<p>Cast members Robert Pattinson (L), Kristen Stewart (C) and Taylor Lautner pose at the premiere of "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" during the Los Angeles Film Festival at Nokia theatre at L.A. Live in Los Angeles June 24, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>